informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Apr 04 2012, 8:20 PM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: EFF.org Print

Local Cops Following Big Brother's Lead, Getting Cell Phone Location Data Without a Warrant

BY HANNI FAKHOURY, Electronic Frontier Foundation

New data from law enforcement agencies across the country has confirmed what EFF has long been afraid of: while police are routinely using cell phone location tracking information, only a handful of agencies are bothering to obtain search warrants.

Since 2005, we've been beating the drum loudly, warning that the government's attempts to track a person's physical location through their cell phone requires a search warrant. As we've said again and again, because cell phone tracking can give the government a snapshot of a person's life through their movements, a search warrant is necessary to safeguard against privacy intrusions.

Now new data -- obtained from a coordinated FOIA request by the ACLU -- shows just how pervasive cell phone tracking is throughout the United States. The ACLU obtained 5,500 pages of records from over 200 different law enforcement agencies. The records revealed that most law enforcement agencies are using location tracking information routinely, with only 10 out of the more than 200 claiming they had not tracked cell phones.

And even more troubling, the records demonstrate that different agencies use different standards to obtain this information, with only a few agencies obtaining search warrants in order to track. It looks like local law enforcement agencies are taking their lead from the federal government, who has been using cell location data obtained without a search warrant for years. The case of Antoine Jones is one example. If his name sounds familiar, its because in January of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that the warrantless surveillance of Jones for 28 days through a GPS device violated the Fourth Amendment. Now unable to use the GPS data, the government is turning to cell location data which it also obtained without a search warrant. In another case, the government has appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision of a magistrate judge - who we supported in an amicus brief - that required the government to obtain a search warrant in order to obtain cell tracking information. A magistrate judge in Massachusetts (PDF), and a district court judge in Maryland (PDF) have recently reached the opposite conclusion, ruling that the government didn't need a search warrant to obtain cell location data. 

To civil liberties organizations like us and the ACLU, the privacy implications of obtaining this data without a search warrant are obvious and troubling. But it seems that at least one law enforcement agency recognized the likely public outrage too. The New York Times reports that the Iowa City Police Department warned officers in a training manual not to "mention to the public or the media the use of cellphone technology or equipment used to locate the targeted subject," and even to keep them out of police reports.

But the story doesn't just end with location data. Because once the police find the phone they've been tracking, its getting easier (and more frequent) for them to search the contents of the phone without a warrant, and to obtain reams of your personal data in minutes. A video demonstration posted online by Micro Systemation, a Swedish mobile forensics company that sells its devices to law enforcement agencies, demonstrated how easily police can crack a cell phone's security and suck all of the data out in seconds. Unsurprisingly, once the video went viral last week, it was pulled from YouTube.

And as we've noted before, recent court decisions have allowed the police to search an arrested person's cell phone "incident to arrest" without a warrant, or any reason to believe they will find anything incriminating on it. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest court to authorize this practice, issuing a decision (PDF) in February finding no Fourth Amendment violation in a warrantless search of a cell phone of an arrested person. The police have now been armed to turn any pretextual arrest - say, an Occupy Wall Street arrest for disorderly conduct - into a cell phone fishing expedition, getting access to your calendar, contacts, emails, text messages, voicemails and reading and web browsing history.

All this gloom and doom can be fixed in two ways. First, courts need to recognize that the Fourth Amendment prohibits pervasive and sustained government surveillance unless the police get a search warrant. For centuries, the government's biggest limitation was technological; it was difficult - if not impossible - to follow a person for days at a time. But with surveillance tools becoming smaller and cheaper, its easier for the government to use surveillance information from our own cars to investigate mundane, non-violent crimes. The Fourth Amendment needs to keep up with the changes in technology in order for its longstanding privacy protections to have meaning.

Second, Congress needs to step up and update our electronic privacy laws. The law that governs cell phone location data - the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA") - is more than 25 years old, enacted in a time where cell phones were far from ubiquitous. The law has been unable to keep up with the rapid technological changes that have occurred since 1986, and the conflicting court opinions on the constitutionality of warrantless cell phone location tracking noted above is the end result. It's time for Congress to reexamine the law and bring it in line with our expectations of privacy today.

You can do your part by getting informed and checking out the ACLU's location data map to figure out whether the cops where you live use location tracking data. Regardless of whether or not you live in a state where the cops track, you can tell Congress that its time to fix our broken and ancient technology laws by signing our action alert, and taking a stand to protect our locational privacy from the prying eyes of the government.





Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- Los Angeles Law Enforcement Looking To Crowdsource Surveillance
- TSA Ejects Mute, Disabled Woman From Flight Because She Couldn't Speak
- NSA Exploited Heartbleed for Own Use
- An NSA 'Reform Bill' of the Intelligence Community, Written by the Intelligence Community, and for the Intelligence Community
- Britain to Jail Parents Who Don't Love Their Children Enough
- Clapper Confesses: NSA Searching Americans' Calls and Emails
- "You Can Keep Your Doctor. Oh, And We're Not Listening To Your Phone Calls."
- The Rebranding Of SOPA: Now Called 'Notice And Staydown'









Comments Add Comment Page 1 of 1
Anonymous

Posted: Apr 05 2012, 6:00 PM

Link
6464 Another reason to not have one.


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

Illinois Cops Caught Red-Handed Lying Under Oath In Marijuana Case - 04/16Cop Swerves His SUV Into Longboarders To Enforce $35 Bylaw Violation - 04/14The Disturbing Messages in Police Recruiting Videos - 04/17SC Man Facing Federal Charges Over $.89 Drink Refill - 04/17Ranchers vs. Regulators: The Clark County Range War - 04/17Bundy, the Senecas and Fighting for Sovereignty - 04/17The Disturbing Truth Behind Your Next Income Tax Return - 04/07Tax Day: What Kind of "Civilization" Are We Paying For? - 04/14

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat
(more)

 
Top